Catalogue


Saltwater slavery [electronic resource] : a middle passage from Africa to American diaspora /
Stephanie E. Smallwood.
imprint
Cambridge, MA ; London : Harvard University Press, 2008.
description
273 p. : maps.
ISBN
0674030680 (pbk.), 9780674030688 (pbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
added author
imprint
Cambridge, MA ; London : Harvard University Press, 2008.
isbn
0674030680 (pbk.)
9780674030688 (pbk.)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
general note
Originally published: 2007.
catalogue key
11953751
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Frederick Douglass Prize, USA, 2008 : Won
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2007-01-01:
These two books on the slave trade, particularly the Middle Passage, reach beyond the bounds of traditional historical writing to great effect. Hartman (English, Univ. of California, Berkeley; Scenes of Subjection) is one of the first scholars to examine critically today's African American pilgrimages to Ghana and the complexities of slavery tourism in the region. Having traveled to Ghana to research the slave trade, Hartman became embroiled in the rituals at certain historical sites (e.g., Elmina Castle) associated with Ghana's part in enslavement, as well as the uneasy local politics of tourism. While other authors have covered the history of the slave trade in greater detail, Hartman's strength is how she interweaves vivid scenes of the terror of the slave trade with her own internal struggle to confront the pain of slavery in her family's past. In her first book, Smallwood (history, Univ. of Washington, Seattle) aims to move away from the numbers game that has ensnared so many other historians studying the Middle Passage. Instead of ledgers and account books, she uses letters, journals, and narratives from around the trade route to get closer to the slave experience itself. As the narrative follows the progress of the newly enslaved across the Middle Passage, Smallwood's use of quotes brings to life the everyday horror experienced by Saltwater Slaves, as Africans first arriving in the Americas were described at the time. The clear explanations of the economics driving the slave trade and the process of human commodification will be especially helpful to new students of slavery history. Both books are highly recommended for academic libraries and large African American collections in public libraries.-Kathryn V. Stewart, SLIS student, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2008-01-01:
Smallwood (Univ. Washington) uses the archives of the British Royal Africa Company concerning its slave exports from the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) during the years 1675-1725 to bring "the people aboard slave ships to life as subjects in American social history." This sociological/psychological approach specifically applied to the Akan people of the coast tries to define the new "identity" of the slave in the New World diasporic community. Smallwood does this by examining a handful of specific ship cargoes from their purchase to their sale. The author's approach to this important topic is heavily influenced by the work of Orlando Patterson, particularly his concept that slavery was akin to "social death" (Slavery and Social Death, CH, Feb'83). A thoughtful, extended essay rather than narrative history. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. T. Brown formerly, Westfield State College
Reviews
Review Quotes
This deeply researched, tightly focused, and skillfully evocative look at the Atlantic slave trade, 1675-1725, details the experience of crossing the ocean--an ordeal fatal to many of the slaves who were forced to undertake it.
W.E.B. Du Bois called the African slave trade the "most magnificent drama in the last thousand years of human history." Stephanie Smallwood captures this drama in imaginative and innovative ways, offering a powerful account of the maritime origins of African-America amid the profound violence of the world market.
Stephanie Smallwood's Saltwater Slavery sets a new standard. It is at once a harrowing evocation of the Middle Passage, a brilliant account of the ways that Africans and Europeans made sense of the bloody process in which they were joined, and a subtle critique of the categories of historical inquiry. Here we see realized the enormous promise of a genuinely Atlantic approach to the history of American slavery.
Stephanie Smallwood's Saltwater Slavery is the new starting point for studies of the Middle Passage and required reading for students of the black Atlantic.
No study of the Atlantic slave trade has attempted to penetrate the darkness of those ships' holds, to explore what might have gone on in the minds of the hundreds of nameless people trapped below decks - until now. Smallwood gets there through a tour de force of theoretical sophistication, sensitive informed imagination, and dramatic writing. Hers is the most original and provocative book on the Middle Passage in almost half a century."
Stephanie E. Smallwood's excellent book Saltwater Slavery has attracted less attention than it deserves. Making careful use of the primary sources at [the National Archives at] Kew, Smallwood follows 300,000 captives taken from what is now Ghana between 1675 and 1725, to "widening circles of the diaspora in the Americas."...An ambitious, innovative and highly successful feature of her book is to take what is known about the beliefs of the isolated societies from which slaves were taken--communities who in some cases had never seen white people, the ocean or a ship--to offer a carefully controlled imaginative reconstruction of how the embarked slaves may have conceptualized the "saltwater" experience and attempted to reconcile what they saw with their existing world view.
Smallwood aims to move away from the numbers game that has ensnared so many other historians studying the Middle Passage. Instead of ledgers and account books, she uses letters, journals, and narratives from around the trade route to get closer to the slave experience itself. As the narrative follows the progress of the newly enslaved across the Middle Passage, Smallwood's use of quotes brings to life the everyday horror experienced by Saltwater Slaves , as Africans first arriving in the Americas were described at the time.
In this stark depiction of slaves and their 'utter alienation from the most basic norms of everyday life, ' Smallwood simultaneously delivers a lucid popular history and expands scholarly understanding of slavery with a thorough, clear-eyed look at the dreaded Middle Passage and how it shaped the slave experience...Smallwood is particularly adept at portraying, in detail, the unbearable conditions of the slave ships...Extensive research, much of it from primary sources, forms Smallwood's basis, but she has a storyteller's knack for well-pitched anecdotes and pointed examples.
Smallwood aims to move away from the numbers game that has ensnared so many other historians studying the Middle Passage. Instead of ledgers and account books, she uses letters, journals, and narratives from around the trade route to get closer to the slave experience itself. As the narrative follows the progress of the newly enslaved across the Middle Passage, Smallwood's use of quotes brings to life the everyday horror experienced by "Saltwater Slaves", as Africans first arriving in the Americas were described at the time.
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Stephanie Smallwood offers a penetrating look at the process of enslavement from its African origins through the Middle Passage and into the American slave market. Her story in animated by deep research and gives us a startingly graphic experience of the slave trade from the vantage point of the slaves themselves.
Long Description
This bold, innovative book promises to radically alter our understanding of the Atlantic slave trade, and the depths of its horrors. Stephanie E. Smallwood offers a penetrating look at the process of enslavement from its African origins through the Middle Passage and into the American slave market. Smallwood's story is animated by deep research and gives us a startlingly graphic experience of the slave trade from the vantage point of the slaves themselves. Ultimately, "Saltwater Slavery" details how African people were transformed into Atlantic commodities in the process. She begins her narrative on the shores of seventeenth-century Africa, tracing how the trade in human bodies came to define the life of the Gold Coast. Smallwood takes us into the ports and stone fortresses where African captives were held and prepared, and then through the Middle Passage itself. In extraordinary detail, we witness these men and women cramped in the holds of ships, gasping for air, and trying to make sense of an unfamiliar sea and an unimaginable destination. Arriving in America, we see how these new migrants enter the market for laboring bodies, and struggle to reconstruct their social identities in the New World. Throughout, Smallwood examines how the people at the center of her story--merchant capitalists, sailors, and slaves--made sense of the bloody process in which they were joined. The result is both a remarkable transatlantic view of the culture of enslavement, and a painful, intimate vision of the bloody, daily business of the slave trade.
Main Description
This bold, innovative book promises to radically alter our understanding of the Atlantic slave trade, and the depths of its horrors. Stephanie E. Smallwood offers a penetrating look at the process of enslavement from its African origins through the Middle Passage and into the American slave market. Smallwood's story is animated by deep research and gives us a startlingly graphic experience of the slave trade from the vantage point of the slaves themselves. Ultimately, Saltwater Slavery details how African people were transformed into Atlantic commodities in the process. She begins her narrative on the shores of seventeenth-century Africa, tracing how the trade in human bodies came to define the life of the Gold Coast. Smallwood takes us into the ports and stone fortresses where African captives were held and prepared, and then through the Middle Passage itself. In extraordinary detail, we witness these men and women cramped in the holds of ships, gasping for air, and trying to make sense of an unfamiliar sea and an unimaginable destination. Arriving in America, we see how these new migrants enter the market for laboring bodies, and struggle to reconstruct their social identities in the New World. Throughout, Smallwood examines how the people at the center of her story-merchant capitalists, sailors, and slaves-made sense of the bloody process in which they were joined. The result is both a remarkable transatlantic view of the culture of enslavement, and a painful, intimate vision of the bloody, daily business of the slave trade.
Main Description
In this stark depiction of slaves and their utter alienation from the most basic norms of everyday life, ' Smallwood simultaneously delivers a lucid popular history and expands scholarly understanding of slavery with a thorough, clear-eyed look at the dreaded Middle Passage and how it shaped the slave experience."Publishers Weekly"
Main Description
This bold, innovative book promises to radically alter our understanding of the Atlantic slave trade, and the depths of its horrors. Stephanie E. Smallwood offers a penetrating look at the process of enslavement from its African origins through the Middle Passage and into the American slave market. Smallwood's story is animated by deep research and gives us a startlingly graphic experience of the slave trade from the vantage point of the slaves themselves. Ultimately, Saltwater Slavery details how African people were transformed into Atlantic commodities in the process. She begins her narrative on the shores of seventeenth-century Africa, tracing how the trade in human bodies came to define the life of the Gold Coast. Smallwood takes us into the ports and stone fortresses where African captives were held and prepared, and then through the Middle Passage itself. In extraordinary detail, we witness these men and women cramped in the holds of ships, gasping for air, and trying to make sense of an unfamiliar sea and an unimaginable destination. Arriving in America, we see how these new migrants enter the market for laboring bodies, and struggle to reconstruct their social identities in the New World. Throughout, Smallwood examines how the people at the center of her story--merchant capitalists, sailors, and slaves--made sense of the bloody process in which they were joined. The result is both a remarkable transatlantic view of the culture of enslavement, and a painful, intimate vision of the bloody, daily business of the slave trade.
Table of Contents
Introduction
The Gold Coast and the Atlantic Market for People
Turning African Captives into Atlantic Commodities
The Political Economy of the Slave Ship
The Anomalous Intimacies of the Slave Cargo
The Living Dead aboard the Slave Ship at Sea
Turning Atlantic Commodities into American Slaves
Life and Death in Diaspora
Conclusion: Saltwater Slavery in Memory and History
Notes
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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